View Full Version : China's spy in the sky

10-18-2003, 01:44 PM
China's spy in the sky
1st manned space flight conducting military intelligence

Posted: October 17, 2003
10:23 a.m. Eastern


The prospect of space warfare looms larger after China's first launch of a manned spacecraft.

The Washington Times reports Beijing had an ulterior motive in blasting the single-astronaut Shenzhou 5, or Divine Vessel 5, spacecraft into space. U.S. defense officials say it is equipped with an infrared camera that conducts photographic spying. The camera is said to be powerful enough to distinguish an object 5 feet wide.

During the blastoff, China also secretly launched a new Chinese military intelligence-gathering satellite, according to the Times.

The subterfuge doesn't surprise China watchers at the Pentagon.

"[China's] space assets will play a major role in any use of force against Taiwan and in preventing foreign intervention," Lt. Col. Mark Stokes, director of the Taiwan desk at the Pentagon, predicted in a speech Sept. 30. Stokes said China is working to develop networks of satellites that will be used for spying and communications for the military.

According to Stokes, China also aims to develop space weapons, such as satellite-killing missiles and satellites and lasers that can cripple U.S. military and intelligence satellites, thereby thwarting any U.S. efforts to protect Taiwan from conflict.

Ironically, the U.S. had a hand in outfitting China for its military mission, reports the Times. The Long March 2F rocket that boosted both the spacecraft and the satellite benefited from illegal U.S. technology transfers in the 1990s. During that decade, U.S. satellite companies helped China fix electrical problems with the boosters.